Macaroni Cupcakes

Spaghetti pie a couple of weeks ago and now macaroni cupcakes today--it must be September and back-to-school month because the food pickin's around here are definitely low-brow nursery basics. Maddie was asking for macaroni and cheese this week and as we were looking at some photos online for new options, we stumbled across some interesting variations of mac 'n' cheese muffins or cupcakes. These instantly struck a chord with Maddie since the only thing better than a warm bowl 'o' pasta to a kid would be individual, fancied-up, prepackaged, eat-in-your-hands ones. She then went on to sell me on their portability possibilities and the fact that the leftovers could be easily thrown into the lunchboxes for school the next day ('cept that I ended up making them on a Friday... the sentiment was there although the opportunity was lost).
So I found my fanciest, sweetest, most saccharine cupcake holders that should have been destined for some pastel-coloured, buttercreamy, icing-topped sweet fantasy and used them for this peasanty savoury dish instead. It's all about the presentation, especially for a 10-year-old, and I knew she'd be tickled by the pretty look. I also tried a new recipe for mac-and-cheese that included sour cream--a nice tangy change from the usual.

serves 6

2 cups pasta of your choice

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp dry mustard

2 cups grated old cheddar cheese, divided

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water, and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour. Cook and stir for one minute. Gradually stir in milk, whisking well to avoid lumps. Add sour cream, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and mustard. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in half the cheddar cheese.

Toss pasta with cheese sauce and then ladle into cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. Top with remaining cheese and some panko bread crumbs. Bake for about 30 minutes or until topping is crispy.

Rest of the week

Sept 21 Variations on breakfast for dinner

Sept 22 Bubble chicken and salad

Sept 23 Macaroni cupcakes with tossed salad